One of the small bits of progress I’ve made as a human in mid-stage adulthood is the acceptance and readiness to be wrong about things. Growing up, as they say, is hard to do. So today I’m going to lay out a scenario for you, one in which I participated, and I’m going to let you tell me how I was/am wrong.
I was out on the eBike, and no matter what I said on the podcast yesterday, I was wearing a helmet. Donning the old dome protector seems like the first, best way for a cyclist not to be in the wrong, but bear with me, I’ll be wrong in a minute here.
I zipped down my town’s main thoroughfare and hung a right, stopping at the red light first, putting my foot down, like a solid citizen. Rolling again down a major through street, I planted myself firmly in the bike lane, freshly painted and empty going both ways. But hark, what’s this, a jogger approaching in my lane, running against traffic.
I should note that there was no one around, no one on the sidewalks, no one in the bike lanes, and very few, if any cars. And so, I processed this runner coming towards me as a free agent. I assumed he would step up onto the sidewalk to pass me. Really, he could have gone anywhere.
This might be where I started to go wrong.
I decided I wasn’t giving up the lane. I’ll tell you candidly that whomever advised runners (and I AM a runner as well as a cyclist) that it was cool to run against traffic did everyone a disservice, setting up conflicts like the one I was about to have. As our friend and I approached one another, neither of us moved. Closer and closer we came, until finally I steered just barely wide enough for him to slide by me on the inside.
“THANKS, DUDE!” he said in a loud and aggrieved tone. I said nothing.
Here’s my half-baked take. The approaching runner can see what’s behind me, whether there is a car there or not, so s/he knows whether it’s safe for me to move out into the auto traffic lane. I can’t know this without looking backwards over my shoulder, which sorta eliminates the benefit of being in the bike lane in the first place. In my moral universe, the right hand bike lane belongs to bikes. The sidewalk belongs to runners/pedestrians, and when I run (although why you would ever run on a road if you could run on a trail I don’t know) I use that path rather than forcing cyclists to deal with me.
But ok, the thing is, why did I court the conflict? What was the point? My ego told me I was right, and therefore I might be justified in being intransigent, so I willingly entered a game of chicken with another person when it wasn’t at all necessary.
Here’s the kicker, the runner was one of my neighbors. We are normally on friendly terms. In the moment, and in that context, I wasn’t sure whether he recognized me or not. This begets the conundrum of whether to go and talk to him about it or not, to maybe own my part in what was an unnecessary conflict.
I don’t want to tell you what I did though. What I want for TCI Friday this week is to hear your take on the scenario and your views on what I should have done during and after. Then I’ll tell you how it turned out in the comments later.